‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Robot Character Revealed?

This afternoon CBS released another behind the scenes video, this time with a focus on the uniforms and costumes for Star Trek: Discovery. It is another good insight into the creation of the show but there was one brief moment that caught our eye that wasn’t exactly about costumes. It was a shot of a particular member of the USS Discovery bridge crew.

Who is that?

Airiam the robot

Back in August 2016 Discovery co-creator Bryan Fuller had said he wanted robots to be in the show. And in an article last week we highlighted a section of a set visit to Star Trek: Discovery regarding discussion of a robot character named Airiam.

It’s an exotic-looking prosthetic, which makes sense since the character is a robot. He described the prosthetic as “almost like a jigsaw puzzle,” with assorted pieces, a helmet, contact lenses and more. Airiam, who works on the Discovery bridge and will usually be seen off to Lorca’s side, needs to look smooth on the screen and that may be accomplished on occasion with complementary CGI.

The glimpse of the character above from the new video seems to match the description of Airiam. Having a robot “off to Lorca’s side” could have described some kind of non-sentient robotic assistant, essentially a walking version of Siri or Alexa. However, if the above picture is Airiam, then Discovery is establishing that Starfleet had a sentient robot officer in the 23rd century.

Advanced androids were certainly seen in Star Trek’s 23rd century. The Star Trek episodes: “What are Little Girls Made Of?”, “I, Mudd”, “Return to Tomorrow”, and “Requiem for Methuselah” all featured androids. More androids were seen in 24th century Star Trek shows, most notably Lt. Commander Data in The Next Generation.

Norman the android from TOS episode “I, Mudd”

Who’s on first?

The issue of canon that may arise is that Data was said to be the first of his kind to join Starfleet. The case for Discovery keeping consistent with canon may come down to the technical differences between an android and a robot or even a Soong-type android. Regardless, it may be that Airiam is the first artificial life-form to join Starfleet. 

However, unlike Data, it doesn’t appear that Airiam is a major character and she may even be just a background character. It is even possible that Airiam will never be specifically said to be a robot. The description of the character as a robot may only be something used by the design team and therefore never established with on-screen canon. 

Data (Brent Spiner) from Star Trek: The Next Generation

Video on Discovery costumes

Here is the full video with producers and designers talking about creating the new Starfleet uniforms and other costumes for Discovery.

Video from Netflix for those outside US/Canada

 


 

Star Trek: Discovery premieres on September 24th on CBS with all subsequent episodes on CBS All Access in the US.  In Canada Star Trek: Discovery will premiere  on Bell Media’s CTV and the Space Channel on the same night. Netflix will launch Star Trek: Discovery on Monday, September 25 to countries outside of the U.S. and Canada.

Keep up with all the Star Trek: Discovery news at TrekMovie.

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